How difficult is this question?


A couple of years back I took a trip around the world. Over 8 months I visited 5 countries on 3 continents. I lost a couple of things on the way including almost 10 kg of weight (some on each time zone)…

I go on a trip like that every 2-3 years and every time my purpose is simple: get myself out of the comport zone and to meet new people. If you think about the second reason, It’s kind of included in the first i.e. meeting people often requires a lot of courage. This, however, only applies if you really want to meet them. Let me share with you a story that illustrates my point.

A couple of years back I was volunteering in an orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata. I love working with kids. Their authenticity and creativity always inspires me. We had our routine which included a morning gathering, individual classes, music, dance and arts&crafts. Every kid, with no exception, loved talking to the microphone during the gatherings. Volunteers had to make sure that everyone has their chance. We always asked the same simple question: how are you today? The answers we received ranged from a burst of laugh, simple smile to elaborate 30 seconds show from those kids that ability allow it. Most of the orphans had some physical disabilities, almost everyone was mentally challenged to various degree. However, all of them had one thing in common: they took the question seriously! It was a real question that required a full engagement on their part. It was their chance to shine, their chance to share with other kids and volunteers, their time to be present. I cannot describe the fun we had together.

Recently, I facilitated a meditation session during which the above memory came back to me. I decided to ask the participant the same question: how are you today? It is very important to me that every student is connected with him/herself and with others before we start the session. They are always new people and creating a sense of community is crucial. The first person replied automatically: thanks, I’m good. The second responded in similar manner. When it came to Thomas, he looked at me curiously and said: you are ACTUALLY asking me!!! (exclamation mark rather than a question). In this instant something amazing happened. A simple question so frequently answered without a thought, transformed the relation between us. There was a connection, there was understanding, there was a fundamental shift of awareness. It didn’t take hours, cost much money nor took much effort. The only ingredient that made it happened was a genuine intention to engage with other human being.

As a society we are starving for genuine interactions. Almost every relationship starts on the surface and that’s where it remains on most part. How about we step up and say: no more bullish, no more small-talk, how are you today?!?!? The exclamation marks are again on purpose because it seems this question has to be shouted to be heard. Pretending we are ok, is no longer enough. According to various surveys loneliness is admitted by us much as 70% of the adult population. Another interesting fact: people age 18-35 seems to feel as lonely as those over 60 years of age. In the era of the Internet and Social media this is shocking? Being surrounded by friends and family does not mean that your emotional needs are fulfilled. Rick Jarow explains this phenomenon by showing what we are addicted to. At the bottom there is the food addiction. The food addiction represents our need for nourishment. Instinctively we reach for food every time we feel undernourished emotionally. Compulsive eating spreads like a wild fire amongst developed societies. Rather than stoping for a second and asking: what is that I need? we grab another CocaCola, hoping that it will bring us joy and fulfilment promised in its commercials. The internal dialog is as important as the communication with others. How do we supposed to ask real questions to others if we never ask them to ourselves? Let’s nourish our real, emotional needs rather than our primal instincts.


  1. Look around. Make a conscious connection with your surroundings. Recognise the fact you are a part of the environment. Realise that you are not separate from it.
  2. Now, take a couple of deep breaths. Inhale through you nose, exhale through your mouth as if you blow a candle. Make sure your brain have enough oxygen.
  3. Shake your whole body, shake it well. Rub your hands together so you can feel the heat. Shake them off.
  4. Now, sit down with your legs crossed or in the comfortable chair so your back is straight but not tense. Make sure your body feels comfortable. Recognise any obvious tension and release it on the exhale.
  5. Bring your attention to your body.
  6. Now, ask yourself a difficult question. A question that brings an emotional response. Perhaps a question you’ve been avoiding for a long time.
  7. Name the emotion that it brings. Recognise the area in your body that is affected by the emotion. Perhaps it’s your through, your belly, your shoulders.
  8. Imagine shape, texture, size of the emotion. Anything that will help your left brain to connect with the emotion.
  9. Now take it in your imaginary hands and sit with it for a couple of minutes. Observe how it changes, how it evolves, how it moves. Connect with the discomfort. If it is too much just take a deep breath or two.
  10. Now, being aware of your body and the emotion say “I welcome you [name of the emotion]. Observe how your body reacts.
  11. Release the emotion from you imaginary hands and let go.
  12. Take a couple of deep breaths and sit still for another minute or two.
  13. Thank yourself for the time you’ve given yourself. Thank the emotion for teaching you a lesson, whatever that may be. Express gratitude to yourself and the Universe.

8 thoughts on “How difficult is this question?

  1. Suzanne

    I really appreciate your posts. I especially like this one. Like is such a simple word and doesn’t encompass what I really want to convey…but I am tired, so forgive me for not elaborating. : ) I have written about this same thing though….the patent pleasantry question….”How are you?”
    I am very excited about the work you do and look forward to reading and learning more about who you are and what you do. Thanks for making the initial connection by checking out my blog. I imagine you will find that we have many similar views, approaches to life, if you get a chance to check out my Buddhism category.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom and giving homework on your blog. : )

    • Tomek Post author

      Thank you Suzanne for your comment. It’s good to know there are fellow travellers on the same path. I’ll definitely check your blog. There is so much to learn from each other. Blessings

  2. Denise

    This is so simple i can use it with my kids……

  3. Marie-Claude Nicole

    A big bang of thanks… it went deep when I reached
    step 6, tears were rolling down my cheeks…
    step 7, more tears…
    step 8, creativity gave me a break…
    step 9, I had to breathe very profoundly
    step 10, I welcomed uncomfort and sadness
    step 11, as I used to be a dancer, I left my arms slowly with all the grace and fluidity I could find in that moment
    step 12, again more tears
    step 13, I think I have surrendered to a past love relationship that was still in my heart
    I still have tears in my eyes…thanks again.

    • tomek7799

      And my big bang thanks for sharing this incredible experience. I hope everybody will read this!!!

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